After a sluggish three quarters, Portand opened the fourth with energy and enough offense to get the road win before a tough home-stand. Early fouls troubles and turnovers plagued Portand, but the Blazers were able catch a little fire late and hold off the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.
The Blazers were led by C.J. McCollum with 25 points and 7 assists and Gerald Henderson with 19 points.
The game got off to an ominous start when it was highly assumed Damian Lillard would be returning to play and that Kenneth Faried would not. However, it was just the opposite as Lillard missed his seventh straight game and Faried surprised just about everyone when he was inserted into the starting lineup after a scary neck injury just the other night. Portland shot nearly 53% for the quarter but turnovers and Denver's ability to crash the offensive glass hurt Portland. The Nuggets attempted 24 shots to Portland's 17. With the Blazers trailing 20-15 late in the period, Maurice Harkless and Gerald Henderson provided a nice boost from the bench, helping to trim the lead to 22-21 with just over a minute left. Despite the large gap in field goal attempts, Portland was able to take the lead heading into the second.
End of First: Portland 23, Nuggets 22
With the score tied 44-44 and 3:34 remaining, Mason Plumlee converted on a three-point play and C.J. McCollum (18 points in the half) got in a nice rhythm offensively, something that was lacking from anyone in this game up until this moment. Portland went up as much as nine late in the quarter, but turnovers and Denver offensive rebounds continued to hurt Portland. The Blazers had zero fast break points in the first half, got beat on the boards and had no steals to Denver's five. Yet, the Blazers were able to put together some fluid moments on offense. Combined with Denver's own struggles at the free-throw line, Portland took the lead to end the quarter.
Halftime: Portland 61, Nuggets 56
The game transitioned to being a much more physical affair in the third quarter. Portland committed its fifth team foul with 8 minutes remaining, threatening the entire Pepsi Center with a parade of free-throws the rest of the quarter. The refs obliged the Nuggets by blowing the whistle, a lot, and slowing the game down even more so than that hyperdrive of a first half that produced a total 5 fast break points. Despite the Blazers cooling substantially from the field and everyone except the coaching staff having four fouls, Noah Vonleh capped off a 6-0 run to end an ugly quarter with an athletic tip-in to tie it up.
End of Third: Portland 80, Nuggets 80
Whatever energy was lacking from the Blazers for the first three quarters was found in the fourth as Portland opened the quarter with a 7-0 run. Allen Crabbe got hot early and Gerald Henderson hit a three to give the Blazers a 97-88 lead with 6 minutes remaining forcing a Denver timeout. Portland was the first to reach 100, usually a good sign, with a little over 4 minutes remaining. Noah Vonleh, playing rare crunch time minutes, continued to be a positive force, hitting a big three when Denver was making a mini-surge late in the period. Portland was able to hold off any more Denver runs and the Blazers can return home with a win, to a place looking a lot more like Denver than Portland.
The Blazers are back in action tomorrow night as they begin a tough five-game homestand. First up, are the Memphis Grizzlies (18-17). Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.
BLAZER'S EDGE NIGHT
Help us send 2000 underprivileged kids to see the Blazers play the Sacramento Kings on March 28th! You can donate through this link:
Promo Code: BLAZERSEDGE
Ticket Costs range from $7-13 (There is a $5 processing fee per order.)
You can also call our ticket rep, Lisa Swan, directly at 503-963-3966. You will need to indicate to her that you are donating the tickets you order to Blazer's Edge Night.